Gov’t urged to invest in agriculture research and development

By HANA BORDEY, GMA News

Published January 10, 2022 5:25pm

Senatorial aspirants Richard Gordon and Loren Legarda on Monday highlighted the need for a strengthened research and development program to improve the agriculture industry in the country.

During the AGRI 2022 online forum, Gordon mentioned the importance of research and development as well as the need for the government to provide a platform where the farmers can trade their crops at a reasonable price.

“‘Yung [research and development] support dapat nandiyan, ‘yung processing centers, ‘yung mismong mga private sector ang gagawa ng processing centers para mas maganda ang kita nila,” he said.

(The support for the research and development should be there and the private sector could help in building the processing centers so they can get high income from the sales of their crops.)

The incumbent senator also noted that the local government units could use the increase in their budgetary allocations as mandated by the Supreme Court decision on the Mandanas case, to capitalize the agriculture sector in each locality.

“Gamitin ang kapital… do’n sa windfall na mangyayari ngayon sa Mandanas [ruling], na darating ang 200, 300 percent increase in the budget in all local governments para matulungan ang farmers. Closer is better, malapit na ngayon, makikita ng mga farmer na may pera ang local government,” Gordon said.

(The increase in the local government units’ budgetary allocation under the Mandanas ruling should be used as a capital to help the farmers. Closer is better. The funds are now more accessible and the farmers could already see that the local government units have the money.)

This, as he also promoted cluster farming or cooperative farming in each province or locality.

Meanwhile, Legarda, an incumbent Antique representative who is seeking a Senate comeback in Eleksyon 2022, also mentioned the need for more studies in the agriculture industry as well as the importance of climate-resilient farming.

“Isa po gusto ko pong mas malalim at mas maigting na suporta sa inobasyon sa research and development, paggamit ng siyensya, matulungan ang ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda,” she said.

(One of the things that I wanted to pursue is a strengthened support for innovation and research and development. The use of science to help our farmers and fisherfolk.)

“[We need] to make our farmers communities more disaster resilient, to use innovation and research and development in improving their conditions,” she added.

Legarda also mentioned the need for supplemental income for farmers aside from giving them the tools and equipment, and free seeds for farming.

Both lawmakers mentioned their advocacy for small-focused agriculture business as well as their dismay over the unabated problem of agricultural smuggling in the country.

Moreover, Legarda said she is open to revising the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act of 2009 to ensure that the intent of the law will be realized.

She made the remark after one of the agriculture stakeholder raised the need to simplify the law and make it attuned to the needs of the farmers.

“Indeed, it needs a revisit…While the law has good intention but to reform the sector by providing them access to credit may not have been outright successful and therefore needs to be revisited,” Legarda, one of the principal sponsors of the law, said.

She disclosed that some rural banks association had asked her about the possibility of loosening the guidelines for the law’s implementation.

Legarda asked the stakeholders to share their recommendations and their concepts for the possible amendments to the law so it could be considered if she will be elected in the Senate in 2022.

In March 2021, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) amended the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act of 2009 to improve financing to the agrarian reform, fisheries, and agricultural sector.

Under Republic Act No. 10000 or the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act, banks are mandated to allocate 25% of their loanable funds for the agriculture industry, 15% of which should be for agriculture-related projects and 10% for agrarian reform beneficiaries.–LDF, GMA News

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